Sound Off! Orchestra Underground: Traditions and Transmigrations

I know you’ve been waiting for it… Now is your chance to tell us what you thought about the concert!

Here are a few questions to get the ball rolling…

– What surprised you most about the concert?
– Do you think that composers write differently when they are the soloist? How so?

– Which piece did you think was the most convincing? Why?

See what other people are saying and let us know what you think!

(By the way, if you filled out a SoundAdvice survey at the concert, look for your answers in the comments section!)

Photo: Erin and Colin Gee in rehearsal with ACO’s Orchestra Underground

31 comments

  1. American Composers Orchestra
    December 16, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Christine M. was surprised that the intercultural mix of the concert fit so well together, and thought that Donal Fox's piece was most convincing, an "outstanding combination of jazz and classical." She also thought that composer-soloists have a deeper understanding of the orchestra.

  2. American Composers Orchestra
    December 16, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Thomas D. thought that 'Peace Out' was the most convincing piece on the program, and was surprised "to see so many composers on stage" with the orchestra.

  3. American Composers Orchestra
    December 16, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Dashka P. wasn't sure if composers write differently when they're the soloist, but thought that 'Peace Out' was extraordinary nonetheless.

  4. American Composers Orchestra
    December 16, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    We heard from Yanmei G. that Erin Gee was most surprising: "It was really interesting to see the decomposition of vocal sounds into microscopic notes accompanied by [Colin Gee's] movements." Yanmei also said that parts of Curt Cacioppo's 'When the Orchard Dances Ceased' "sent chills down my spine."

  5. American Composers Orchestra
    December 16, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Agnes B. commented that Curt Cacioppo is "a scholar as well as a musician and has mastered the idiom." She also said that composers have a deeper commitment to "get it right" when they are also the soloist. Agnes said she was surprised by the degree to which she responded to "offbeat" works and credited the extreme competence of the musicians in the orchestra.

  6. American Composers Orchestra
    December 16, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Leslie S. said she was surprised by Colin Gee's acting, and thought that "Donal Fox blended all the parts into a convincing whole – it had a journey." She also commented that it really depends on the composer whether or not being the soloist changes how they write.

  7. American Composers Orchestra
    December 16, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Brian H. said he was surprised to find lyrics in the program for Erin Gee's piece but no words actually sung. As far as what was most convincing? Brian said:

    1. Donal Fox – *****!!
    2. Curt Cacioppo – ***
    3. Huang Ruo – ***

  8. American Composers Orchestra
    December 16, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Jess L. thought that there was less distance between the composer and their audience when the composer also acts a soloist. She also suggested that perhaps the composer or conductor could speak about the piece before or after performing it, to help the audience know more than just what's in the program book. Jess also thought Huang Ruo was extraordinary to sing his own song in such a high range, and that it was interesting to hear Western instruments play the sounds of Chinese instruments. She concluded with "BRAVO!"

  9. American Composers Orchestra
    December 16, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    We heard from Bob L. in Brooklyn that "Yes, composers write differently when they are the soloist. The solo part tends to be more 'proprietary,' and less convincing as music as opposed to an extension of the composer's ego." He thought that 'Mouthpiece' was a close second for most convincing, but that 'Peace Out' broke through more barriers.

  10. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    An anonymous contributor enthusiastically commented that Huang Ruo's piece was most convincing.

  11. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Victoria B. from Greenwich, CT was surprised by the overall quality of the music, and thought that Erin Gee's 'Mouthpiece XVIII' was the most innovative.

  12. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Edwin A. was surprised by the "tons of vocalizations! weird ones!" He also thought that composers treat pieces differently when they are soloist, "as something of a duet between themselves and the players."

  13. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    John B. loved Huang Ruo's piece – he thought it was the most coherent over its entire length, and especially enjoyed the vocal part. He was surprised by the "variety of musical styles and, unusually for ACO, how much voice there was!"

  14. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    We heard from Ariella F. that the Gee siblings and their Composer Portrait Video were the most surprising parts of the evening. She also thought that Donal Fox's piece was especially memorable: "The ending in which the piano and strings play in unison, and then the piano slowly dies away…"

  15. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Mohamed B. was most surprised by Donal Fox's piano playing and remarked that it was "amazing the way [the piece] was played."

  16. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    One listener (Kit B.) confessed that they "don't have an interesting answer, but would like to say that the Erin Gee was the only composition that resonated with the 'Orchestra Underground' moniker. More like in the future, please!" Kit also said that Erin Gee had the most distinctive voice and that she used the sounds of the orchestra to create an original sound world.

  17. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Bernard B. from New York thought that composers would write the same for themselves as they would for another soloist, and that the piece isn't necessarily different just because they are the soloist. He thought that Peace Out was the most convincing: "The dramatic urgency of the piece and the diversity of styles incorporated speak well to its title and theme."

  18. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    We heard from Harold B. that the wide range of compositions were surprising, and that Donal Fox was especially musical in his performance.

  19. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    George from Concord, NC was surprised by the "remarkable new dimension of tonality and timbre of the human voice and the orchestra." George also thought that Huang Ruo "skillfully transformed the voice and instruments into a fully dimensional poem."

  20. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    John P. was most surprised by the composers performing with the orchestra, and thinks that composers write differently when they're the soloist because their personal experience affects the composition.

  21. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Kenneth F. kept it simple and said "Donal Fox – amazing."

  22. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    This was Umme F.'s first ACO concert, and they thought the sound system was excellent!

  23. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Natalie from Jersey City thought that "[Acting as the soloist] may help them realize what is at stake for the performer more. It also helps the audience realize how integrated the composer can be in his or her work." She also thought ALL the pieces were convincing, especially Curt Cacioppo's piece, where she "could really hear the storyline."

  24. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Lotus A. didn't realize how having the composer present and participating in the piece on stage would add such an interesting component to the performance.

  25. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Deborah M. said "Huang Ruo appears so young but the depth of his music and song could touch the soul without one understanding the words. I rarely find a piece that causes me to have goose bumps just by perceiving the blending of the sounds and vibrations. The poem and translation of Li Sao was touching and penetrating to the heart. Amazing piece!"

  26. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Susan B. said that Cacioppo was "complex and fabulous, needed rehearing because lots of intellectual effort is needed to follow the intent (as written in the program notes)." She also was surprised by the use of voice as an instrument, and instruments as voice, both as they sound in nature.

  27. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Rebecca V. thought that composer-soloists must know their parts better because they've written it!

  28. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Mirella G. of Exeter, NH was surprised by "the different uses of voice… very expressive in a new and even bizarre way to me." She also thought that composers are more likely to write pieces within their ability if they are going to be the soloist too. [Haha, so true Mirella!]

  29. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    "Nothing in particular" surprised Michael C., but he did think everything on the concert was convincing.

  30. American Composers Orchestra
    December 17, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Dolores W. said she could really identify with Huang Ruo's 'Leaving Sao', and was most surprised by Erin and Colin Gee's performance.

  31. Anonymous
    December 22, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you for letting us Tweet about the concert during intermission! It was exciting to be able to speak out right in the moment.

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